Make your own trellis for climbing plants using a chainsaw

Simple, sturdy and ready in just a few steps

Inspirations / How to

27/04/2022

Estimated reading time 5 minutes

In the garden and on the patio or balcony you can take advantage of the varied sizes, shapes and colours of climbing plants for partitioning, enclosing a porch or a gazebo, covering a pergola, creating “green walls”, accentuating architectural elements or, on the contrary, disguising something unsightly. Climbers usually need support such as a trellis, lattice or grating, which needs to be very strong in the case of plants such as wisteria.

A trellis for climbing plants can be a fixed or mobile structure. Fixed structures should be installed in the garden or secured to a wall of the house or to a rectangular wooden planter, whereas mobile ones should be attached to a wall, a tree or planted in the ground, if the climber is potted. You can buy a trellis or build one yourself (including with recycled materials) using wood, bamboo, metal, plastic or other materials.

Today we will show you how to make your own wooden trellis for climbing plants: it’s simple to do and is both decorative and functional.

Making your own trellis for climbing plants: what you need

Here's what you need to buy in order to build a DIY wooden trellis measuring 104 cm wide and 190 cm high:

  • For the frame: 2 wooden posts measuring 7x7x190 cm (width x depth x height).

  • For the latticework: 11 wooden slats measuring 2.5x1x90 cm and 6 slats measuring 2.5x1x180 cm.

  • Galvanised metal brackets for burying in the ground to secure the trellis (or brackets for anchoring to paving or decking). Alternatively you can make a freestanding trellis by building some wooden brackets to stabilise the base of the posts.

  • Hardware: fencing staples to join the latticework slats together, through-bolts with nuts and washers to secure the posts to the brackets, corner plates (L-shaped) and suitable screws to fix the latticework to the posts (and, if you aren’t burying the brackets, screws and plugs to anchor the brackets to the paving or decking).

You’ll need the following tools to make your own wooden trellis:

  • Pencil, metre rule and square

  • Hand saw for cutting the slats and posts to size

  • Sandpaper for sanding

  • Hammer for nailing staples into the lattice slats

  • Drill for making holes in the posts to fix them to the brackets (and, if you are anchoring the brackets, for drilling holes in the paving or decking)

  • Spanner for tightening the bolts securing the posts to the brackets

  • Electric screwdriver for tightening the screws of the corner plates (and, if used, of the anchoring brackets)

  • Utility gloves

As an alternative to a hand saw, cut the trellis posts to size with a chainsaw: an electric, battery-powered or small petrol engine chainsaw is fine for DIY jobs like this. If you don't have one yet, here is a guide to help you choose a chainsaw.

Even if you’re only using a chainsaw for a DIY project, use it with care and wear appropriate protective clothing: click this link to find out how to use a chainsaw safely.

How to make your own wooden trellis for climbers: the steps

Once you have prepared the materials and equipment to make your trellis, it's time to get down to work, starting with the lattice panel. We recommend constructing a 90x180 cm rectangular panel consisting of slats arranged into a grid pattern. You’ll need a very large work surface, or alternatively use the floor of your garage, if you have one, as a support surface:

  • Arrange the long slats (180 cm) parallel to each other and with 15 cm spaces between them: they should ideally form a 90x180 cm rectangle.

  • Starting at one end of the long slats, place the short strips (90 cm) on top at a right angle, spacing them about 15 cm apart. The last short slat should be placed over the opposite end of the long slats, thus forming a rectangular grid measuring 90x180 cm.

  • Mark the position of the short slats on the long slats with a pencil.

  • Staple the short slats to the long ones, hammering the staples in at the intersections.

When the grid panel is ready, start building the frame of your DIY trellis, which will be its supporting structure. If you need to clear grass from the work area—the place in your garden where you decided to erect the trellis—you can use a brushcutter. So, proceed as follows:

  • Drive the brackets for the trellis posts into the ground, suitably spaced to abut both sides of your 90x180 cm grid panel.

  • Insert the posts into the brackets and secure each post to its bracket using the through-bolts.

  • Fix the lattice panel to the posts (the top of the panel should be aligned with the top of the posts). For every post you need three corner plates, which should be screwed onto the rear of the trellis (starting from the top, the first plate should be fixed level with the second-highest short slat, the second plate level with the middle slat and the third plate level with the second slat from the bottom).

  • Coat your DIY wooden trellis with impregnating agent to protect it from the sun and harsh weather.

Your DIY wooden trellis for climbing plants is ready. When building it, let yourself be guided by creativity: you can treat it like a module and construct more than one, placing them side by side or arranged at an angle to create two-dimensional or three-dimensional compositions. You can vary the width and height measurements, and change the size of the square spaces in the grid panel. You can choose to insert only horizontal slats into a rectangular frame, or replace the vertical wooden slats with bamboo canes, etc.

As for the plants themselves, you are spoiled for choice between evergreen and deciduous climbers: not only jasmine and false jasmine, but also chocolate vine, Bignonia, Bougainvillea, honeysuckle, clematis, wisteria, Lapageria, climbing hydrangea, bower vine, passion flower, sweet pea, leadwort, climbing roses, rambling roses and Canadian vine. Before planting them in the garden, you can use a rotary tiller to effectively prepare the soil.

As they grow, climbers must be trained by tying the stem and shoots to the support, in order to obtain the desired effect. Pruning is only required to remove broken, diseased, old, misplaced or excess branches, so that the foliage does not become too heavy (including for the trellis itself) and to avoid creating an environment favourable to pests and disease (if necessary you can eliminate pests and weeds with a mistblower).

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